Office work is not for everyone. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that you can make almost any place work as an office, even the beach. In this episode, Amy Rasdal, Founder of Billable at the Beach, joins Rodney Flowers to share how you, like her, can find freedom and flexibility without sacrificing the career you built for years. Amy and Rodney discuss the new virtual environment and the opportunity of each individual to be anywhere in the world and work. Get to know Amy a bit more as she shares her journey from an office cubicle to the beach while still getting the same impact as a consultant. Tune in and find the freedom and flexibility from work you’ve always wanted.
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Freedom and Flexibility: Working From The Beach With Amy Rasdal
Our guest is Amy Rasdal. She traded her company job for a consulting business several years ago. Now she makes more money than most executives. She works and plays every single day. She has founded Billable at the Beach. She’s going to be here with us to tell us about that. She’s passionate about helping others find their freedom, flexibility to live the life of their dreams without sacrificing the career they spent so long building. Welcome to the show, Amy.
Thank you, Rodney. I’m very excited to be here with you.
I have to ask, are you at the beach?
I’m absolutely at the beach.
I was reading through your material, I came across Billable at the Beach. I’m thinking, “This is interesting,” especially given the times that we are in now, that is more doable and it is even more accepted by people because we’re living in this virtual environment. Everything is digital. We have Zoom group meetings and all of this technology that’s bringing us closer together. We can literally be anywhere in the world, work and make money. You seem to be the master of.
It will be interesting to see how at this role. I’ve been at Billable At The Beach for several years. I started doing it even before there was Zoom and people were comfortable with that, but I decided that’s the way that I wanted to work. I could help people that way, be effective, efficient and still live the life that I wanted to live. It will be interesting to see how it changes the face of the workplace in the world. I hear friends who are in companies and who are in decision making positions saying, “We’re letting some of our space go. Even when things are all the way back to normal, we’re not going to bring everybody back in the office.” Some people like it, some people don’t. It’s going to be interesting to see how all this shakes out.
Given that you’re someone who started this well before the technology existed, what got you into this? Why did you decide to go virtual and begin making money on the beach?
I hated sitting in a cubicle. For me, that was soul crushing. I don’t mind working hard. Showing up and sitting in a cubicle at 8:00 or 9:00 every morning, it wasn’t for me. I felt like I was in a hamster cage. I felt like there should be a little thing that I could push with my nose and M&M’s would come out to keep me interested in staying in that cubicle all day. When I did jump off the corporate track and start working for myself, I thought, “I don’t want to go sit in an office all day. I want to do it remotely. I want to make it work. I wanted to find It.” I started finding all the positive things, not for myself, but the positive things for my clients about me not being there. I didn’t get distracted. I didn’t get pulled into all these side conversations that weren’t necessarily productive. I found out that I could do the same amount of work and get the same impact on results as a full-time person in about fifteen hours a week.
Walk us through that. What epiphany did you have that gave you the enlightenment that here’s another way of doing business that’s more efficient? What did you discover that you took advantage of?
Honestly, between us, I was driven by as much as the lifestyle and my selfish personal reasons for wanting to do it, things like sitting in a cubicle. I’m a hardcore corporate person, but in one of my other lives, I’m a dancer and a mother. I started this before I had kids, but it allowed me the room and the space to also do those things. The first motivation was selfish, but then I realized, “I’m getting as much done as a full-time employee and fifteen hours a week,” I realized that it was a benefit to the customer. I learned how to turn what I wanted into a benefit for my customers. For example, professional level dance classes happen at 10:00 AM because dancers perform at night. It’s not like yoga, where you start at 7:00 AM and then go to your corporate job. At 10:00 AM, if you’re working a corporate job, it doesn’t strike your team as very convenient for them.
I will admit that I would occasionally make it look like I had just gone to a meeting and I would run over and take a dance class and then come back. I was able to turn that into advantages. I would say, “I’m available from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM seven days a week. If something comes up, you’ll usually hear back from me.” That’s fine with me because I have decided that in my life, I don’t want to work hard all week and be completely free on the weekends. I want to work and play every day. I get up at 7:00. I check my emails. I interact. I go to dance class from 10:00 AM to 12:00 noon. I come back, I interact. I do all the family stuff with homework, now it’s distance learning, bedtime and bath. I get the kids to bed, sit down and work again. I learned how to turn those things. It’s a win for everybody.
That’s becoming the new norm. People are forced into that structure that you’ve described and what they’re finding is, “It works?” It’s been working. We didn’t know it worked because we weren’t confident enough to try that as the standard. Companies are now adopting, they’re looking at, “what are new operating procedures and expectations for telework employee?” What we’re going to find is they want certain number of hours online engaging with their fellow employees and staff members. It’s not just, “You need to be on standby 8 or 9 straight hours.” There’s this flexibility that’s allowed. Across the entire workforce, we’re going to find more productivity. This thing called work life balance, we’re going see a spike in work life balance because of this flexibility.
It’ll be interesting to see if things become more based on merit because we all know that our promotions and our rewards, particularly in the corporate environment, aren’t always based on merit. It’ll be interesting to see that, as you’re allowed to focus and demonstrate results, which I’ve jumped out of the corporate track into consulting. One of the things that I enjoy is being able to have so much impact and because I’m not trying to work my way up through that corporate ladder, it’s about results, the contribution and the impact that I’m able to have. It’ll be interesting to see if that rolls through to the corporate workforce more navigate this.
The challenge is measuring those things. Given that you’ve been doing this for several years, what are your recommendations about how we measure that productivity? What is the criteria for you to deserve a promotion? We need to stop looking at that, how do we do that in the corporate space?
I’m no longer a corporate employee. I work on a consulting basis, but one of the things that I do and think our corporate brothers and sisters need to do is define and communicate your own metrics and results. I was talking to someone in one of my programs. He’s just getting started. We had a proposal to do and I said, “One of the first things you want to do in your proposals, you want to deliver something concrete in the first ideally 30 but for sure 60 days.” As contributors, whether we’re inside or outside employees or consultants, we need to make sure that we’re committing to what our deliverables and milestones are going to be, then following through putting new ones ahead, don’t necessarily leave it to our leaders, managers or boards depending what level we’re at to define those things for us. Let us all take an active role in defining those and then measuring ourselves and communicating our results. Don’t throw it completely into the hands of somebody else.
I’ve always felt that there needs to be a two-way communication when it comes to this. Not only should it be top down but bottom up. The bottom up is more important, especially when it comes to establishing these types of criteria. It needs to be heard from, that entry level employee, 3rd or 4th year, those lower level employees. What are some of the ideas you have in terms of what are the deliverables? How do we measure your output? Whether or not you’re eligible for promotion? What is the next level, the tiers, the criteria within the tiers? What are the standards? What does all of that look like? It should be a collaborative effort. There’s a lot of value at those lower levels, who harvest that out.
I agree and make sure that those folks feel empowered and have the courage to engage in that dialogue.
What type of consulting are you doing these days? Is it corporate consulting? Tell us a little bit about your business.
Briefly about my background, I’m a Silicon kid. I grew up in Silicon Valley. My dad was an early semiconductor guy. I grew up in a world where there were fruit orchards, which was originally in Silicon Valley before Silicon came in or there were high tech startups. I grew up in a world thinking, it wasn’t likely that I was going to be a fruit farmer. What all of us were exposed to was high-tech startups. I started out as a software engineer. My long-term goal is to be a technology startup CEO, which I have since decided, is overrated and underpaid.
I wrote code for a few years. I went into business school. Out of business school, I was lucky enough to fall into the world of medical devices. My industry experiences deep in software and medical devices. I said about getting all my cross functional rotations because I wanted to be a CEO. I’d been in engineering. I did time in marketing and operations. There came a point where I jumped off and started my own consulting business, still serving all of those corporate clients. By corporate, it can be startups or corporate, but corporate types, aspiring companies that have high growth tech startups, almost all in the technology space.Define and communicate your own metrics and results. Click To Tweet
This allowed me to have a lot of impact on when I work? Where do I want? How do I work? How much money do I make? I like to say, “Don’t lean in, walk out.” Lean In which is Sheryl Sandberg’s famous book that some of us may or may not know. Serve it back to them on a silver platter at twice the price, but it’s the idea that is a high impact. Be a superhero with super powers making super pay, figure out what lights you up and lights up the customer. It can’t just be you because somebody has to buy it. It is a business. Superheroes, super power, super pay, figure out where you can have the impact, make a difference, what you love to do, and marry all those things together. That’s how I’ve built my consulting business. What happened is one of the big things about consulting is outreach, keeping your pipeline full of high quality projects. A significant amount of your time has to be outreach, you can call it sales, networking, marketing or business development.
As I kept developing my outreach, I start to have people coming back to me and saying, “Amy, I don’t have a consulting project for you, but I see you’ve been doing this consulting thing for a while now. Every time I see you, you seemed happy and energized. I want a piece of it. What’s going on there? Let’s talk.” As I would meet with these people, that happened more and more. I would think, “What do I want to tell them? What do I love? What do I hate? What do I wish I would have known?”
I started to develop a body of material on how to start a consulting business. I started to realize that people kept asking for it. That’s when I started Billable at the Beach, which is helping people start their own consulting business and figuring out how to do this because I made a lot of painful mistakes along the way. They weren’t things that were obvious. After I made them a few times, I thought okay. As I started to identify them, then I would tell my friends, “Don’t do this and don’t do that and don’t do the other thing and watch out for this.” I realized that I learned how to do it, what are the pitfalls to avoid? How to accelerate so that they wouldn’t have to work through all of the things that I had to do? I can surface those issues from the beginning.
You created a blueprint for those that wanted to get into the game. We just follow this blueprint to at least six-figure earnings.
As you well know, you still have to do the work. There’s no magic to six-figure earnings.
Who is this for? What type of person that you feel is the perfect candidate to do something like this?
I won’t pretend to know the universe, but the people that I can help are people who’ve been corporate types, who have a fair amount of corporate experience. I like to say six-figure earners, but it’s more about the experience and the mentality than the money. If you wanted to do this, and maybe you’re not exactly at the six-figure level, that’s still okay. You have to have enough experience that someone’s going to want to hire you for your expertise. I like to always go back to superhero, superpower, super pay. You should have enough experience so that you feel like a superhero or you can fake it pretty well.
Actors are welcome as well.
Because a big part of me is a performing artist and I know that you’re an athlete by background, we hear in the corporate world, a lot of value placed on athletics. I don’t think the corporate world has appreciated enough yet, the ability to perform on a stage, which is a slightly different twist on things. There is an element of “fake it until you make it” that makes it real.
You have to put yourself in that environment in order to understand what it takes to be good at it. Part of being in that environment is filming what it feels like, but still holding your composure, performing, delivering with all of those pressures that no one can feel with you at that moment. You’re the one that’s under the spotlight. That’s highly under appreciated. Now, that we’re in this new environment, people are going to be looking for those types of skills because we have to be on stage. You got to be in the environments where you have more eyeballs looking at you because we’re in this virtual space. Everyone is tuned into the screen and at the spotlight more so than before. We talked about going back to measuring again and looking for those skills that we would consider growth skills or skills that are necessary to perform at certain levels on a job. That’s definitely one of them. That’s going to get looked at. Presenting now is, you who always present to me, you were before. In this virtual environment, it’s even more so a demand.
Sometimes people get stuck. They’re getting their way. When I work with my people in my programs, it’s usually not external factors getting in their way. They’re usually getting in their way. Some people have this feeling that they have to have all the pieces completely together before they can do it. You’re never going to have that. You’re never going to get there. It’s this idea of getting comfortable with these certain unknowns and pieces that are missing. Still charging ahead and believing that you can get it done, you can do it. The confidence that you have enough and not waiting for all these things to perfectly line up because you will never arrive at that destination.
Have you read the book, Humility is the New Smart? That’s a good book. I mentioned that book several times in the show because it is a tipping point for companies. It outlines, what are the skillsets necessary to be a driving force in the world going forward? Going forward is defined by the Smart Machine Age, where machines are doing more of the routine jobs. What are humans doing? What is doing more of the high level thinking, interacting? The people skills are at the forefront and being able to engage, collaborate, having that humility to put others before you, that service mentality. More of what you talked about not having all the informational skills that you need, but yet being able to perform and deliver. We talked about those skillsets that would be necessary for someone to do what you did several years ago and having that level of skillset is more in demand now.
The pandemic as we recover and continue, which is going to take some time, the ability to have someone who can come in and contribute immediately, that’s the big name of the gaming and consulting, is you hire an expert, they can come in and hit the ground running right away. They can start contributing from the very beginning and make an impact. For those of us who do it, it’s tremendously satisfying personally, to be able to see your impact. Companies are willing to pay for that. Training and development, some of those things are going to be a little bit suppressed for a little while as the recovery companies are going to have to focus on the quickest way to get back where they were and beyond. I believe that as we move through this recovery, there’s going to be a big demand for expert consultants.
As a consultant, what do you think is the message for companies as we transition? I don’t think we ever go back. We go to something that we can progress forward with. Companies are still trying to define that. They need help and assistance with that. What do you recommend? What do you think corporations need to think about as they make this transition?
They need to think about utilizing their most efficient and effective resources to get there, but they need to make sure that they still at the same time preserve their mission, culture and intent. It’s incumbent on them. I haven’t thought that much about this question, but it’s incumbent on us consultants to make sure that we work with this. One of the important things about consultants is our job is to go in there and make an impact, go away and move on to the next thing. We’re not supposed to go in there and make ourselves indispensable and stay there forever. We make our impact where we can and move on. The more that companies and consultants work to make it that way, the more benefit we all can get from each other.
I’m thinking the impression should last. They’re going to take the recommendations and ideas that you present to them and implement them into their day to day, implement them into their culture to get to a certain result or an objective that they’re looking for.
In my consulting practice, I do a lot of implementation work. I work with teams that are inside the company, not the teams that I bring. My job is to leave that initiative and team to be able to run without me. Maybe bring me in for a little tune up once in a while down the road, but that’s my job. When I’ve been successful is, when they can do all of the great stuff that I came up with and keep doing it on their own without me.Be a superhero with super powers making super pay. Click To Tweet
What are some of the consulting tips that you’re imparting into corporations these days, especially given the times that we’re in.
I’m more focused on helping people do it than helping corporations use as effectively. I’m helping people more active, people figuring out how to do it and how to perform effectively and make their impact along with having the life they want. From the client perspective of the corporation, they’re not worried about our personal lives. With my people, I’m working with them to say, “What’s that balance of corporate and personal that you want to achieve?” Let’s figure out how to make that an advantage for the customer so that it all works on the outside. Sometimes there’s a little spin, repackaging and a little bit of rework, but it can always melt together. At the end of the day, what we’re looking for is the win-win. That’s when we all become the best.
For those that have a desire to get into consulting, building that six-figure business, Billable at the Beach, what are some of the pitfalls you find that they encounter as they attempt to reach this level of success?
One of the biggest pitfalls is not charging enough, people tend to underprice themselves going in. You need to be careful that you’re charging enough. Like it or not, the client does have a little bit of you get what you’re paying for mentality. People have a tendency to think, “I’m just getting started so I have to charge less,” but you’re getting started in consulting. You’re not getting started in your area of expertise. There’s no reason you should price down because you haven’t done consulting before.
Charging enough is a big mistake. Another big mistake is people have a tendency to sell all of their capacity to one client. If you sell all of your capacity to one client and you take up residence, meaning you take up a cubicle or an office in their facility, you quickly become a de facto employee. You lose all the freedom of flexibility of a consultant, but you get none of the benefits of being a full time employee. It’s very instinctive for new consultants because they’re scared. Fear is a big driver in these things.
Even back to the charging enough, the reason people don’t charge enough at the fundamental is, “I’m afraid that if I look at you and I say my rate is $175 an hour, you’re going to laugh in my face.” I’m here to tell you, no one is going to laugh in your face. If they do, that’s probably a good sign that you should go somewhere else anyhow, but it is fear. It’s the same with selling all of your hours to one client. You’re afraid that you won’t be able to sell all of your capacity.
If you can lock it up with one client and get what you think is stability, it’s very tempting. If you do that, you lose all the benefits. If you think you have the security, then you’re not going to do the networking, marketing and business development required to keep your pipeline full of high quality projects. That’s one mistake that many new consultants make. You get 9, 12 or 18 months down the road and you look up and say, “This project is over and I don’t have any more now.” I say, “Never give more than the equivalent of 10 or 15 hours a week to any one client.” Your goal is to have 2 or 3 bigger clients going. If one of them wraps up or drops out unexpectedly, you have others going. You spent the time on your pipeline and you have people that you can bring in to fill that gap.
What is your recommendation to building this fundamentally? What are some of the things you’re looking for to build that foundation?
The first thing I want everyone to know is that it’s easier than you think. Spoiler alert, you already have everything it takes. You need a computer, a phone, brainpower and business experience. Those are the things that you need. I help people who have some experience, I’m not as helpful to someone who has just finished college, if they want me to help them, they need to go and get some experience first, 3, 5 to 10 years, and then we’ll talk.
If you have that experience, you are ready to go, then you jump in. I don’t know if this is a good time for me to share one of my tools that I have. I didn’t want to do that unless that worked for you, but I have a free email course that’s called 3 Action Steps to Generate Revenue. It’s three simple, straightforward steps. You can implement them in 10 to 14 days. These three steps give you the best possible chance of landing a project and the way I want people to start. I don’t want them to think, “I’m going to build a consulting business that’s big and scary and overwhelming.” I want you to land a project and put a check in the bank. You don’t need a website, a logo and photos.
I want you to close your eyes and focus. Land a project, get a check in the bank. This free email course that’s available on my website. If you search for Billable at the Beach, you’ll find it. It will be obvious there. It takes you through three steps. I’ve taught it over the last several years that I’ve had Billable At The Beach to hundreds of people. It still makes up the foundation of my business development program and it is easy to implement. It generates leads quickly and a lot of people are able to be billable within 2 or 3 weeks of landing their first project.
Any person with some level of corporate experience could do this?
If you want to, you have to believe it and anyone can do it. The functional area doesn’t matter. If you’ve spent your career in accounting, marketing or engineering, that doesn’t matter. There’s someone out there who does need your experience, I do have people focus on corporations rather than helping the hair salon down the street because my goal is to get you making six-figures, which is it’s difficult to make that kind of money helping the hair salon down the street.
I do get some people who say, “I want to get out of the corporate world, it became toxic for me,” which it does for some people and I say, “There were a lot of things that you loved about it. You love what you did, you spent all this time, your education, your experience.” You’re going to have all of the things that you loved about it and none of the things that you didn’t because you’ll have so much control over, when, how and where. I choose to work remotely because I always wanted to do that. If you don’t want to work remotely, you don’t have to and you can go to the client site.
If this is the idea of work and play every day, knowing me, I don’t want to do that. I want to have my weekends completely free, do it, if you say I want to work nine months and then take three months off, because I’ve always wanted to climb Mount Everest, do it. It’s up to you. I work from home. For some of our friends out there right now, they’ve been working from home and they don’t like it. You don’t have to, you can work in a coworking space or rent an office. The thing is that you get to decide your dream life, whatever that means personal and career.
What’s the best way for someone to get started with this?
The three action steps, first of all, I want you to know, it’s easier than you think. I told you what you needed, phone, computer, business experience and brain power. I think the best way is my 3 Action Steps and then you just have to jump in. If the idea of starting a business is exciting and energizing, I’m all in. If you’re like most of us and it’s overwhelming, I want you to land a project and get a check in the bank.
I’m a big believer in kind of baby steps and that you will get there, step by step. One of the things that I help people do is, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and sometimes you can’t see it yourself and sometimes you talk to somebody else? They say, “Rodney, why don’t you do this?” and you say, “I can’t believe I didn’t think of that.” Sometimes other people help you. We have groups. We’re all trying to do the same thing together. Sometimes, somebody else can make the light bulb turn on for you and get rid of that roadblock. We’re clearing roadblocks all the time. We’re taking baby steps. We’re breaking it down into bite sized pieces. That needs to start. There is a little bit of a leap to get started. You keep taking step by step.There's no magic to six-figure earnings. You still have to do the work. Click To Tweet
If people wanted to learn more about this and learn more about you, how can they find you?
You can find me in my website, BillableAtTheBeach.com. I’m active on LinkedIn. I have a Facebook group, but I think people are more likely to find me on LinkedIn. If you search for my website, you will find me. I have the free email course, but I have a lot of other great resources and articles. If you’re out there and you’re doing a little consulting and you have a specific question or area, first of all, you’re welcome to reach out to me. I have a lot of good articles on my website as well.
Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story with us and your expertise as it relates to consulting and starting a business. I appreciate you for doing that. As we close out the show, I would like to ask, what are your departing words for the readers as they think about jumping into this, maybe they’re a little skeptical and they are going to go check out your three tips, your free course, what are some departing words you would like to share with them?
I’d like you to take yourself back to when you were a little kid. A lot of us have this experience, the first time you tried to jump off something high into the pool, whether high for you was just the edge, the low board or the high dive. You had to walk out there. At some point, you had to close your eyes and plug your nose, have the faith and the courage to jump in. I say jump in and then know that the way to get there after you take that little plunge is through baby steps. You will get there. There are people that can help you. They’re your friends, your family. There are expert resources. Surrounding yourself with those minded people for those moments when you falter and when you don’t have the courage, those are the things that will get you there.
Amy Rasdal, thank you for stopping by, what you do and sharing your expertise with us.
- Lean In
- Humility is the New Smart
- 3 Action Steps to Generate Revenue
- Is Life Knocking You Down? Read Rodney’s inspiring story – Get Up! I Can’t. I Will. I Did… Here’s How! https://rodneyflowers.com/get-up-book/
- Recognize Your Positive Potential – Essential Assertions by Rodney Flowers https://rodneyflowers.com/essential-assertions-book/
- Get Access to Rodney’s Daily Inspiration in your Inbox Today https://rodneyflowers.us9.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=01f76a038256f77a6fbc93590&id=307d726734
About Amy Rasdal
Amy Rasdal traded her corporate job for consulting 15 years ago and makes more money than most executives. The advantages are freedom, flexibility, control, interesting work and excellent pay. She has been running her own multiple 6-figure consulting business for more than 15 years. As the founder of Billable at the Beach®, Amy has helped hundreds of people start their own successful consulting businesses through speaking, workshops and various programs over the past 10 years. Billable at the Beach® liberates 6-figure earners by helping them build 6- figure consulting businesses.
Amy has over 25 years of experience in Operations, Product Development, Corporate Development and Marketing. Prior to forming Rasdal Associates, her consulting company, she held a variety of positions at CareFusion, Cardinal Health, Tandem Medical, Epic Cycle Interactive, and ASK Computer Systems. Amy has an MBA from The Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth as well as undergraduate degrees in Computer Science, Music and French. She now lives with her family in San Diego, California, and is passionate about helping others find the freedom and flexibility to live the life of their dreams, without sacrificing the career they’ve spent so long building.
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